Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors, Twain Harte News on April 6, 2011
The young man was in his yard tending the burning pile of slash, when suddenly it dawned on him that it was much too quiet. The birds had stopped chirping, the chickens had stopped clucking and everything was still. It was like all of nature was holding it’s breath, when he realized a mountain lion was crouched nearby readying a surprise attack — on him.
The Sonora resident posted on his Facebook page:
“Just got my first glimpse of the mountain lion on the property….I’m sure glad the dogs were inside….I was burning the wood pile at the back of the house and looked up and he or she was staring me down….Holy Shit that was exciting and frightening at the same time….:)”
The young man remained facing the young mountain lion (weighing less than 100 pounds), stood up tall, raising his shovel and backed himself inside his home as quickly as possible. He later learned that the mountain lion had killed a neighbors turkey only the day before. The Sonora resident was most surprised that the mountain lion exhibited no fear of man.
Those living in the high country West of Sonora, should take care to bring their pets and livestock inside before dusk and keep them safe until the daylight hours, as mountain lions normally feed just before sun up or just after sun down.
According to a flier produced by the California Department of Fish and Game:
If You Encounter A Mountain Lion…
There’s been very little research on how to avoid mountain lion attacks. But mountain lion attacks that have occurred are being analyzed in the hope that some crucial questions can be answered: Did the victim do something to inadvertently provoke an attack? What should a person who is approached by a mountain lion do— or not do? The following suggestions are based on studies of mountain lion behavior and analysis of attacks by mountain lions, tigers and leopards:
- Do Not Hike Alone: Go in groups, with adults supervising children.
- Keep Children Close To You: Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
- Do Not Approach a Lion: Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Do Not Run From a Lion: Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
- Do Not Crouch Down or Bend Over: In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and domestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby. He surmised that a human standing up is just not the right shape for a cat’s prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a fourlegged prey animal. If you’re in mountain lion country, avoid
squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
- Do All You Can To Appear Larger: Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion
that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
- Fight Back If Attacked: A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
Immediately Report All Encounters or Attacks:
If you are involved in a face-to-face encounter with, or an attack by, a mountain lion, contact the California Department of Fish and Game 24 hour dispatch center at (916) 445-0045. The threat to public safety will be assessed and any appropriate action will be taken. Also report any sightings of dead or injured mountain lions.